Our first stop on this tour of everything-bagelization: soft pretzel bites. Have you made pretzel bites yet? Wowzer. They are every bit as incredible as typical soft pretzels (these taste just like Auntie Anne’s and I do not make that comparison lightly), but with a two-bite size that is made for Superbowl parties. Or movie nights, or days ending in y. Add some everything bagel sprinkle to this equation and you have yourself a truly next-level, transcendent snack food.
I know that you think that homemade soft pretzels are a pain in the tuckus. And I don’t necessarily disagree. Yes- you have to make yeast dough. Yes- you have to have enough clean counter space to roll out skinny dough snakes and shape them into pretzels. Yes- you have to boil them in baking soda solution before baking. The good news is that pretzel bites cut some corners. With this recipe (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction) there’s no rising time involved, and you can just hack the dough into haphazard, non-uniform lumps instead of meticulously shaping them. You do still have to make the snakes. Nay, you get to make the snakes- we all know that’s the fun part, anyway. All in all, these take around an hour total: about 30 minutes with the dough, and another 30 to bake the pretzel bites in batches.
If Beyonce can find an hour in her day to theoretically make pretzel bites, so can you.
- 1 1/2 c. warm water
- 1 T. brown sugar
- 1 packet instant or quick-rise yeast (2 1/4 t.)
- 1 T. butter, melted
- 1 t. salt
- 3 1/2 c. all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting counter
- 1/4 c. baking soda
- 1 egg, beaten
- everything bagel sprinkle
- In large mixing bowl or bowl of stand mixer combine warm water, brown sugar, and yeast. Allow to sit for a minute or two.
- Meanwhile, melt butter and set aside to cool.
- Using a dough hook, mix together the dough: pour melted butter and salt into yeast mixture, then turn on mixer to low. Add the flour gradually one cup at a time. When flour is fully incorporated increase mixer speed to medium and allow to knead until dough forms a ball and no longer sticks to the side of the bowl, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in some extra flour as you go along, if needed.
- Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425 F. Prepare two baking sheets by spraying with cooking spray. One will be to catch the bites after boiling, and the other for baking.
- While the dough rests, fill a large-ish pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, place dough on a floured surface and cut into 4 equal blobs. Roll each blob into a rope about 1-inch thick, then chop into roughly 1.5-inch segments (usually around 10 pieces each rope).
- Once water is boiling, add the baking soda and stir to combine. Add about 8-10 bites to the pot and boil for 20-30 seconds. When the bites become firm, use a slotted spoon to fish them out and set aside on one of the baking sheets. Repeat until all bites are boiled.
- Brush the bites with beaten egg, then sprinkle the tops with everything bagel mixture.
- Bake in batches for 15 minutes per batch, or until bites are golden brown. Serve piping hot with cheese sauce and hot mustard.
I’ve been making pork potstickers for family and friends for years- they have always been improvised and slightly unique each time, and I never wrote the recipe down until I prepared the little dumplins you see pictured before you. We took a long camping weekend up in Washington last month with some loved ones where I was reminded by Ben’s cousin Alex that I once made these potstickers for him several years ago, long before we all migrated to our respective corners of the Pacific Northwest. He told me emphatically that they were so delicious that he has since never forgotten about them. It warmed my heart! The whiskey helped, too.
My love language is food. This is in no small part due to warm and snuggly memories I have of making jello poke cake and elephant ears and cinnamon rolls with my grandma in her tiny kitchen as a wee lass. I like to think that love is evident in the foods I prepare (with the exception, perhaps, of these scones, which made me stabby). Potstickers, especially, are truly a labor of love- every comforting bite was once cradled gently in the hand of the person who lovingly crafted them, one-by-one. This is a very sly and sentimental way of disclosing to you that they are not fast to prepare, and there’s some technique to learn.
There are upsides to potstickers’ laborious, two-bite construction. They can be prepared in bulk for future convenience- I usually make about 100 at a time (double the recipe below). And they freeze just marvelously- that way whenever you need them, you can open your freezer and grab a handful or a lot. They don’t need to thaw and they take just ten minutes to fry/steam straight from the freezer, so you can have them for dinner, lunch, snack, elevenses, party-time (what is that), or whenever hunger strikes. I don’t exaggerate how quick and easy they are to heat up- I have been enjoying fresh, crunchy, and piping-hot potstickers on my hour lunch-break all week. I am living the dream, you guys!
Flavor-wise, these pork potstickers have got it all. Each dumpling is a magical parcel bursting at the seams with mouthwatering umami flavors of ground pork, shiitake mushrooms and sesame oil. They’re salty and spicy and crunchy and addicting, and you are going to love them. They’re perfectly complemented by the dipping sauce included with this recipe- sweet brown sugar, salty soy, and the zip of plenty of sambal oelek. Do not neglect to make the sauce- it comes together really fast on the stove and there’s plenty to keep in the fridge until your potsticker-stash is depleted.
So here it is! My very own pork potstickers- written down, at long last, hurled joyfully into the ether, so they can be shared and loved forever and ever, amen.
- 2 t. sesame oil
- 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and finely diced
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1 t. freshly grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic, grated or minced
- 2 T. soy sauce
- 1 t. chili paste (sambal oelek or sriracha)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 c. coleslaw mix, roughly chopped to break up long pieces
- 2 T. cornstarch, divided (plus extra for dusting)
- 1/4 c. warm water
- 50-60 potsticker wrappers
- vegetable oil, for frying
- 1/4 c. water
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 c. soy sauce
- 2 t. sesame oil
- 1 T. chili paste
- Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced shiitakes and saute until softened. Set aside.
- Combine pork, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, chili paste, scallions, coleslaw mix, and 1 T. cornstarch in a large bowl. Add the shiitake mushrooms and work with your hands until everything is evenly incorporated. Refrigerate while you prepare to fold the potstickers.
- Mix together 1 T. cornstarch with warm water. Dust a large cookie sheet or tray liberally with cornstarch. Queue up Gilmore Girls on Netflix.
- Working over a clean cutting board, place a small spoonful (about 2 t.) of filling in the center of the wrapper. Dip a finger into the cornstarch slurry and apply around the edges of the wrapper. Fold the bottom and top edges over the middle of the filling, pinch together, and pleat the sides toward the center to seal. Place on the prepared cookie sheet, pleated edge pointing up, and repeat until out of filling.
- At this point, you can freeze the potstickers (see notes below) or cover with damp paper towels and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set aside to cool.
- Grab your largest non-stick skillet and lid. Coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil and heat to medium-high. Arrange potstickers evenly in hot pan, pleats pointing up, leaving a little space between each one. Fry undisturbed for 5 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown.
- Pour in water and cover the pan. Steam for 5 minutes (or 7 minutes if frozen).
- Uncover and cook off the remaining water for 1 minute.
- Serve hot with dipping sauce.
- *Dipping sauce recipe yields about 10 oz. of sauce- reduce recipe if desired. It keeps great in the refrigerator.
- *If freezing the potstickers, it's best to freeze them on the cookie sheet covered loosely with cling wrap, and then you can transfer them to a ziplock bag when fully frozen- this keeps them separated so you can grab however many you want later. No need to thaw before using- just follow the directions as above and expect them to take a few extra minutes to brown on the bottom before steaming.
If you’re an Oregonian I don’t need to explain anything to you about Rogue Brewery, but to my Wisconsin readership- should you ever happen upon a bottle of their Hazelnut Brown Nectar in your parts, it is recommended that you set aside your fierce (and justified) loyalties, just for a moment, and snatch it up quick. Besides being one of Oregon’s most beloved local breweries, Rogue also serves pretty solid bar fare at their brick-and mortar pubs. Really- their tots are no joke. These crab cake sliders are inspired by my favorite small plate at my neighborhood’s Rogue pub. In creating this recipe, I am keeping with their simple concept of crab cakes, kimchi, and mayo on sweet rolls. However, sorry-not-sorry, Rogue… mine win big, hands-down.
You see, while there are certainly occasions for the imitation stuff, you just cannot beat fresh, lump dungeness crab. We’re doing this right, food-fans. A truly great slider is like an amouse-bouche. It must have, in its tiny package, all flavor groups represented to achieve maximum tantalization. The kimchi brings tang, spice, and funk, aided by the salty umami flavor in the fish sauce- and it’s all hugged together by the sweetness of the Hawaiian rolls and the high-quality dungeness crab.
The cakes themselves are worthy of standing all alone (and they certainly shall in my future, with a dipping sauce)- crunchy and light and true perfection. Please look away as I self-five a thousand times, and proceed to the recipe below.
- 2 egg whites
- 1 T. fish sauce
- 1 T. fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 c. finely chopped cilantro
- 2 T. corn starch
- 8 oz. lump dungeness crab, squeezed and drained
- 1 c. panko bread crumbs, divided
- canola or vegetable oil, for frying
- 12 Hawaiian rolls
- cilantro leaves
- In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg whites. Whisk in fish sauce, ginger, scallion, cilantro, and corn starch.
- Add 1/4 c. of the panko and the crab meat to the bowl, and gently fold together until just combined. Chill in the refrigerator 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, separate the rolls and slice in half. Set aside.
- Fill a large, deep saute pan with 1/2" of oil and heat to medium high.
- Pour remaining 3/4 c. panko onto a plate or shallow dish.
- Retrieve crab mixture and divide into 12 blobs. To form the cakes roll each blob into a ball, place on top of panko plate, and cover with a handful of panko. Gently press down to form a patty and adhere the panko to the top and bottom. Put on a plate and continue.
- When all cakes are formed and oil is hot, fry in batches of 3 or 4 until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
- To assemble, spread a thin layer of mayo on the bottom halves of the rolls. Layer cilantro leaves on next, then crab cake, then a fork-full of kimchi, and the bun-tops. Eat them while they're hot!
There are a lot of things you can half-ass in life. Folding fitted sheets. Flossing. Recycling. Keeping up on oil changes (okay, I didn’t say you should). Yes, there are myriad opportunities to half-ass in life. But the rub with adulting is that most times, you shouldn’t, because consequences. Speaking generally, there is a direct relationship between the effort you put in, and the quality of the result.
I have really good news for you, weary traveler: delicious restaurant-style salsa is not one of those things. Somehow this salsa exists, no doubt in defiance, to remind you that a few things in life are better when you put in less effort.
Canned tomatoes (whaaaat?) come together with a few friends in the blender and after a quick chill in the fridge, you have a big batch of fresh, zesty, perfect salsa ready to delight and amaze you. And others, if you should choose to share 🙂
It is a truth universally acknowledged that restaurant salsa is the best salsa. Dig in!
- 1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
- 1 c. cilantro, stems removed
- 1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
- 2 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- juice from 1 lime
- 1/2 t. salt
- Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor. Use the pulse mode to chop the salsa to your chunkiness-liking. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides, if needed.
- Pour into a bowl or container for storage. Place in refrigerator and chill at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine.
- Yields around 4 cups.
- Store in the fridge for up to one week, or freeze.
Does anyone else struggle for lunch ideas, or is it just me? Saturday morning before Ben wakes up, I curl up on the couch with my meal planning notebook, my netflix binge-show-du-jour in the background, and get to work planning food for the coming week. For the most part, I love this ritual, and usually have no trouble at all devising an entire week of inspiring dinners- all varied in texture, flavor, and nutritional attributes (of course), meals that I look forward to all week long. But then I have to choose a lunch for the work-week, and I hit a wall. I’ll then spend the next hour or even more (really!) thumbing through pinterest, foodgawker, and previous meal plans, like-
no… no… no… too many ingredients… no… I’ll get sick of that in two days… no… no… no… super unhealthy… no… no… too healthy…
In the span of time it takes me to merely decide what to eat for lunch for the coming week, I could have whipped up an entire gallon of egg salad and gone on with my life. But who wants a gallon of egg salad? It’s enough to make me want to throw my hands up and resign myself to spending a small fortune at the food carts every single day. But I’m stubborn, and I hate standing in lines for food. Plus, I write a food blog, for pete’s sake…
All of this is to say that it’s thrilling when I can introduce a new lunch to my go-to repertoire. Enter, it’s newest member- whipped feta with quick heirloom tomato bruschetta. It’s short on ingredients, enormous on flavor, and keeps in the fridge all week- in other words, it’s a real go-getter. You can prep on Sunday and then assemble in a jiffy at lunch-time. Or- serve it as a starter at your next dinner party. Better still- pack it in a romantic picnic! Don’t forget the Rosé!
The bright, zesty flavors are uplifting and sure to stave off mid-week boredom. I am enamored with the lovely, marbled colors that heirloom tomatoes lend (you can find heirloom cherry tomatoes at Trader Joe’s), but you can, of course, use whatever type of tomato you like best or have handy.
- 6 oz. feta cheese
- 1 c. greek yogurt
- 2 lb. heirloom cherry tomatoes, coarsely chopped (or any tomato)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8-10 fresh basil leaves, fine chiffonade
- a splash of vinegar (your favorite- I used a rosé vinegar)
- a pinch each of salt and pepper
- Toasted baguette or crackers for serving
- Combine feta and yogurt in bowl of stand mixer and whip at a quick speed until fluffy and smooth- pause to scrape the bowl as needed.
- Combine tomatoes, garlic, basil and vinegar in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Store the whipped feta and bruschetta in sealed containers and refrigerate until ready to eat.
So, I made a big batch of shredded chipotle beef on Sunday. It did not photograph well. However, I really believe that if the beef could talk, it would say “I have nothing to prove. Taste me.” And you would trust it, because it would sound like the improbable love-child of Morgan Freeman and James Earl Jones. And Boyz II Men would be there. And Barry White.
All things considered, I am glad that the beef cannot talk, because I have been doing shameless things with it all week. Let’s chat about nachos for a bit.
Down the street from my apartment, and one block from the Multnomah County Library, there is a dive bar called Momo’s. Much like The Beef (yes, I’m capitalizing it now), Momo’s doesn’t put on airs. Momo’s has sticky floors, tacky wall art depicting the boobs of various confident women (with glitter), and unisex restrooms that achieve impressive questionableness after 7pm. We frequent Momo’s for their dreamy beer-garden, and for their life-changing nachos (the boobs are a bonus?). Momo’s has taught me something crucial about nachos that I’m dying to share with you today.
Beans. On. The. Bottom.
Momo’s builds their nachos ON TOP of the refried beans. What are the implications of such an odd choice? My dear friend, not a single dry chip on the plate, that’s what. Anytime I have ever had nachos previous to Momo’s (we’ll call this dim 26 years of my life “BM”, for Before Momo’s), it has been the same let-down. You know how this goes. First: steaming plate of melted cheese and beans and chips plus other accessories. Squee! 10 minutes later: sweaty, coagulated cheese plus disappointing surplus of useless, dry chips.
I have no solution yet for the sweaty, coagulated cheese. That is a cross that we all must bear with dignity and with acceptance. But we do have a choice of where we place our beans and I declare that, henceforth, the only proper position for the beans on this totem pole is firmly on the bottom, where it can provide equal opportunity for the prosperity and moistness of all chips.
I am endlessly endebted to the proprietors of Momo’s for this information. Now let’s chat about Kimchi Nachos. I am not married to a foodie. I am married to a physicist, whose zipper is frequently in the down position, who enjoys McDonald’s breakfast in the bath at times. However, there have been two occasions in which he has created an edible that was so profoundly enlightened, so apropos of nothing, and just plain genius. One of those divine creations is kimchi nachos.
It’s not complicated- it’s nachos with kimchi instead of salsa. I can’t think of anything else to say about it. It just is kimchi nachos, with beans on the bottom, and…The Beef. I am confident that a recipe is not required for this. A photo can be found above, if you are a visual learner.
The Beef has a recipe, and that recipe is below! You’ll see The Beef again later this week, in the form of a burrito bowl.
- 2-3 lb. beef chuck roast
- 2 t. kosher salt
- 1 t. cumin
- 2 t. chili powder
- 1 T. cocoa powder
- 1 c. beef stock
- 2 T. tomato paste
- 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 2 T. olive oil
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Make a rub with the salt, spices, and cocoa powder. Rub all over meat. Sear the roast for about 3 minutes per side, or until a dark crust develops.
- Spray the inside of your crockpot with cooking spray and place the roast inside.
- Deglaze the skillet with the beef stock. Reduce heat and stir in the tomato paste until a smooth sauce forms. Squeeze all of just the adobo sauce from your can of chipotles into the pan and stir to combine. Pour this all over the roast in the crockpot. Add 1 chipotle pepper for medium heat, or two or more for extra spicy. You can keep it mild by leaving the peppers out- the adobo sauce adds incredible flavor on its own.
- Cover the roast and cook for 8 hours on low heat.
- When cooked, remove the roast to a baking dish. Pour the liquid from the crockpot into a large measuring cup and set aside. Using two forks, discard any fat and bones, and shred the meat.
- Using a spoon, skim the oil from the top of the chipotle sauce. Pour the skimmed sauce over the shredded beef.
- Serve, or store in the refrigerator for later.